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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The murder trial of five Murupara Mongrel Mob members in the High Court at Rotorua has been hit by another hiccup.

08:53 |

One of the senior defence counsel involved, Herman Roose of Tauranga who was acting for David Te Wharerangi Rewi, suffered a heart attack overnight and is in Waikato Hospital.

His illness stalled the start of today's proceedings and when they resumed junior counsel Alistair Burns carried on in his stead until a new senior counsel could be appointed.

Before the lunch break Justice John Priestley announced senior Rotorua practitioner Andy Schultz had agreed to replace Mr Roose. Mr Schulze has been acting for another man who pleaded guilty to charges relating to the same trial and is waiting to be sentenced.

On trial with Rewi, 25, are Neville Duff, 33, Joshua-Lesley White, 18, Jerome Taker Routine and Hemi Winton, both 19.

On the murder count they are jointly charged with Norton Tahoe, 19, who pleaded guilty earlier this month.

Another man, Jarrod Tumoana Rewi, 19, has been discharged on the murder charge but has pleaded guilty to the one relating to participating in an organised criminal group. The accused are jointly charged with him on that matter.

A criminal group charge against Abraham Jozef Eurera Roberts, 24, was withdrawn after the Crown indicated it would not be offering any evidence against him.

The Crown alleges Kaine Lewis, of Kaingaroa, was murdered at Murupara on October 3, 2009. The criminal group charge spans October 2 and 3 of the same year.

The trial stalled a second time this morning when there were technical difficulties with a video link to a pathologist giving evidence from the United States. It delayed proceedings by a further half hour.

The trial has been bedevilled with hold-ups from the outset, with some observers claiming it is jinxed. Its opening was delayed for a week by legal argument, then late last week a pipe broke in the ceiling above the High Court room. The breakage came during the lunch break when the court room was empty but the trial was unable to proceed in that part of the Rotorua courthouse. This week it is continuing in a smaller district court jury trial room.

Although it had no impact on the trial Justice Priestley's associate suffered a family bereavement during the trial's first week and had to return to Auckland.

Today's interrupted video link evidence was being given from Denver by Dr Mike Frank Arnall who was working in Auckland at the time of Mr Lewis' death and had carried out the post mortem examination on him.

He told the court it was his view that Mr Lewis died from a fractured skull after suffering brain bleeding and swelling.

When the link was restored Dr Arnall concluded his evidence in chief but his cross-examination has been delayed until next week to allow Mr Schulze time to catch up on proceedings.

The trial will resume on Friday.

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